A Gamer Manifesto

I thought an interesting moment in Gamer was towards the end, when Castle revealed that his ultimate goal is for his nanites to control all of humanity by having the ability to send commands to whomever he feels like controlling, whenever he feels like controlling them. This reminded me of Donna Harraway’s A Cyborg Manifesto, since her piece elaborated on the thought that humans are becoming more and more part machine and part human as time progresses. That’s really interesting to me, even more so since Harraway only wrote the piece in 1991, years before computers were household items, and much longer before cellphones, let alone the smartphones of today that literally have tracking and recording devices in built, became mandatory items to have inches from you at all times.

I would say that the characters in Gamer that were taking part as being characters in Castle’s games Society and Slayers were literally visions of Harrway’s definition of cyborg:  “a cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction.” While Kable and Nika, along with the other warriors and avatars, weren’t the combinations of machines and organisms as you might expect when first imagining Harraway’s definition, through the nanite technology that Castle implanted in the characters, the characters in the simulations directly technologically-connected to the framework that allowed gamers to play as the avatars and warriors.

I appreciated that Castle never succeeded, and his goals that I mentioned above never worked out. It basically showed that the world isn’t yet ready for a Gamer-esque world, despite how much Castle tried to explain how logical his games were, and how they helped make all parties’ lives better. It was pretty ironic that as soon as Castle mentioned his ultimate goal, Kable managed to end them immediately, showing how delusional Castle was in thinking he could control the world.

Before watching the movie Gamer, but still knowing the premise of the plot, I couldn’t help pondering how the directors and filmmakers would manage to portray the characters as being controlled by different people. Would it be smooth? The way that some of the players were portrayed, in their robotic and unstable jerking movements in Society, realistically gave the impression that they were indeed part machine and part human, like very realistically looking robots. They moved very robot-like at times, but still talked to each other and looked and acted like humans. The filmmakers managed to accomplish portraying the cyborg-esque characters very well, by switching between views of the gamers as well as their characters, in addition to using heads-up displays to show both parties, which essentially joined to become one character in Society and Slayers.

As unrealistic as it is to think this could happen in the future, I tend to try to not discount anything for the future of technology. The technology we have today that allows us to control almost everything remotely, including our cars and home appliances, leads me to believe that while being able to control humans as precisely as Gamer suggested probably won’t ever happen, we’ll get closer and closer to that fiction becoming reality as time goes on. Technology is just too unpredictable, and I think regulations might stop us from controlling humans rather than technology never advancing to that point.

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4 Responses to A Gamer Manifesto

  1. rwl14 says:

    I agree with most of your conclusions, except the one concerning Castle’s success. True enough, he doesn’t dominate the world in the traditional sense of controlling everything, but he did create Society and Slayers, both of which tremendously dehumanized the people acting as avatars for the entertainment of the players and the viewers. The fact that the world stood idly by while Castle created these “games” which have no regard for human life would seem to be a failure of the world. Now, I do believe that people would stand against this were it real, but in the film, Castle had already become exceedingly rich and influential. Most Bond villains would be content with that.


  2. pittpanther8 says:

    Your analysis of the human and robot-like movements of the video game characters in Society and Slayers does bring up an interesting thought that these people are more like cyborgs than humans. I see a cyborg as a robot operating within human body, although Harrway definitely makes an argument for it being much less technologically advanced, like someone with a knee replacement or glasses. I think the idea of free will separates the gamer from the characters and for that reason the bots in the game are considered cyborgs. The “warriors” are humans, but without control and free will to operate, they are nothing more than machine. I think you did a great job of making this distinction and connecting Harrway’s views to the movie.


  3. Steph Roman says:

    For this assignment, you need some aspect of form to support your ideas. Here’s my example:

    I think the most telling form the movie shows us is the heads-up display (HUD) over Simon’s screen while he controls Kable. That is a seamless blend of organic and inorganic–coupled together, Simon and Kable form one cyborg.

    Then extrapolate from there.


  4. A quick correction: Haraway’s “Manifesto for Cyborgs” was originally published in 1985 (as I said in class, and as is on the syllabus), so her prescience is even more striking.

    Also, Steph raises a good point here; you need to focus more closely, carefully, and critically on form. For example, you describe the robotic movements of the actors in Society, but then you stop there. Why might it be interesting or important to note how the filmmakers have chosen to depict the actors in Society? (In other words, this is a clearly formal choice that could be analyzed much further.)


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